Cherishing the bright blue weather days before winter

Thursday, October 25, 2018
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This and That

James Russell Lowell wrote:

And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, come perfect days;

Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,

And over it softly her warm ear lays;

Whether we look, or whether we listen,

We hear life murmur, or see it glisten. . .

Well, I beg to differ. Living within the Montana prairie weather patterns, June is often cold and wet or we can almost jump from winter directly into a hot, dry summer. Except for the first month of summer: kids out of school, swimming pool opens, baseball is in full swing — we don’t pay too much attention to the fact that it is June. In other words we don’t have high expectations for the perfect weather as described by Mr. Lowell.

Seasons on the prairie always have a bite to them — a sharp edge. Rarely do the seasons slide gently into each other. Most often they change virtually overnight. You will hear people say, “Just a couple days ago I had the windows open. Today I turned on the heat.”

The season I appreciate most of all in Montana is “Indian Summer,” that time in the fall that comes after a couple of hard frosts. The cold, wet weather we had in September was a disappointment. It seemed winter was already here, but we were saved.

Right now, as I write, the sky is clear blue, the colors are gold or red or even still green in some spots. The air is in the mild 60s and close to 70 — in other words perfection. We appreciate the sun’s warmth when we first go out to start the day. The evenings run into the 30s or less so the early morning we find a chill to the air and a light frost on the grass or at least a dampness before the sun’s rays burn it off.

I mowed my lawn in a t-shirt the other day picking up the leaves that have fallen. If I talk about perfection and weather I am usually thinking about “Indian Summer.” My brother remembers days out hunting with his high school friends and I know most of the men really look forward to the hunting season and being out in the crisp, clarity of the early morning air. My mother was born in October and fall was always her favorite time of year. She loved burying her grandchildren in leaves and the colors of fall were special to her.

As we move into November and if this pristine weather continues, prairie dwellers get a little nervous — it is like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Each beautiful fall day is one less day of winter, but we know that the cold will come. That is what makes these golden days so very precious.

Poet, Helen Hunt Jackson speaks to the glory of October. So I will let the two poets book-end this discussion.

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,

By twos and twos together,

And count like misers, hour by hour,

October’s bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,

Count all your boasts together,

Love loveth best of all the year

October’s bright blue weather.

Avis Anderson is a retired pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Glendive. Her online blog can be found at www.prairienewdays.com.

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